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The parallel market for used cooking oils

Dinheiro Vivo

Used Cooking Oil
opiniao dinheiro vivo

Hugo Rocha, Manager of the company EcoMovimento, associated with ABA (Advanced Bioenergy Association)

The collection of used cooking oils (UCO) is essential as, when correctly treated, they can be used to replace petroleum products in fuels, causing a very positive environmental impact. To correctly treat the UCO, they must be placed in the available oil containers throughout the country. UCO are produced in different sectors: HORECA channel (hotels, restaurants, cafes), industrial and domestic.

However, despite Portugal already having a considerable number of Waste Management Operators that collect UCO, those produced in the domestic sector have very low collection rates. This may be due to the fact that there are still several counties that do not provide a collection network for citizens, contrary to what is provided by law.

Therefore, it is urgent to redefine UCO legislation with the aim of professionalizing the collection market and increasing recycling rates for this waste. Only in this way we can have a competitive market and achieve satisfactory UCO recycling rates.

On the other hand, it is visible that consumer interest in recycling UCO has increased, possibly as a consequence of growing communication and awareness among counties and operators themselves.

However, a UCO collection market is growing in parallel. This happens due to several factors, including the fact that sector legislation is still too permissive. It provides that any citizen, without any type of licensing, can collect and transport UCO to a Waste Management Operator. We call this activity “UCO collector” and, although there are cases of good practice, there are also bad examples – lack of cleanliness, disorganization and even diversion of countless liters of UCO. These actors put into question the image of all those involved in the value chain, especially that of Waste Management Operators.

On the other hand, we also feel the lack of awareness and supervision of UCO producers, as many of them (from the HORECA sector, for example) are unaware that they are responsible for the proper disposal of this residue. Furthermore, certification systems such as ISCC - International Sustainability Carbon Certification - which guarantee the sustainability and traceability of the value chain, can be easily deceived as they are permissive and depend on the good faith of those involved.

Finally, and perhaps the most critical factor, nowadays, we see Waste Management Operators and Small Biodiesel Producers who buy UCO from “producers” and “UCO collectors” without proper documentation, without questioning the origin of the UCO and without guaranteeing the traceability of the value chain. As long as these illicit purchases happen, the parallel market will persist because the UCO collected unduly will continue to have a guaranteed final recipient.

Therefore, it is essential and urgent to redefine legislation and increase supervision so that UCO are only collected by Waste Management Operators licensed for this purpose, and the competent entities reinforce the duties of those involved in the recycling chain. Only in this way will it be possible to design a waste management strategy that allows the use of UCO as a raw material for the production of biofuel, capable of decarbonizing the present and the future of circular mobility.

See the article in Dinheiro Vivo .

Tag :

biodiesel, UCO, used cooking oil

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